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Thousands flock to Audacy music festival as US firms cancel Christmas parties over fears of Omicron


Florida held a huge music festival over the weekend, despite fears over the Omicron variant that has seen Christmas parties canceled and staff urged to work from home well into 2022. 

The Audacy Music Festival welcomed thousands of fans to the outdoor event in Fort Lauderdale as members of one of its headline acts – the Swedish House Mafia – were forced to pull out of performing after testing positive for COVID.   

The festival, which featured a lineup including the likes of 21 Pilots, Lil Nas X, Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse, and Steve Aoki, took place Saturday and Sunday, with two band members of one group testing positive for coronavirus some time after arriving at the festival.

Thousands of maskless revelers were seen getting up close and personal by the water’s edge, with experts saying that outdoor socializing is relatively safe in terms of COVID transmission risks.  

Pictured: thousands of people attended the Audacy Beach Festival in in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida over the weekend, despite ongoing fears of the Omicron COVID-19 variant

The crowd appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day's lineup

The crowd appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day’s lineup

Lil Nas X, pictured, was among many artists to perform at the festival, alongside Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse, and Steve Aoki

Lil Nas X, pictured, was among many artists to perform at the festival, alongside Weezer, Willow Smith, Modest Mouse, and Steve Aoki

Pictured: US rapper Lil Nas X performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida Saturday

Pictured: US rapper Lil Nas X performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida Saturday

Two members of the Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish house music supergroup who were scheduled to perform on Sunday, tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them to cancel their performance and stoking ongoing fears over the risks of returning to large gatherings.

‘Despite following precautionary measures, two members of the group have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning we will be unable to perform this Sunday at Audacy Beach Festival, Fort Lauderdale,’ the statement from the Swedish House Mafia read.

‘We’re so sorry to disappoint our fans so close to the show, but we have to follow the recommended government guidelines and self-isolate. We must prioritize the health of our group, the crew, festival staff and our fans. We love you all and will see you soon.’ 

The crowd, which numbered in the thousands, appeared to carry on without concern, as swimsuit and bikini-clad concertgoers continued to party well into early Sunday morning before the next and last day’s lineup. 

The massive festival featured artists performing on two different stages, one titled ‘Riptide’ and the other titled ‘Beach.’

The festival also had a water taxi pickup and drop-off area, where partygoers could take a boat to the event to avoid traffic, as thousands descended upon Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront to partake in the weekend’s festivities.

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all COVID restrictions earlier this year, and has sought to ban mask mandates, as well as vaccine mandates, because he claims they impede on Floridians’ freedom.  

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival over the weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 prior to performing

Partygoers attend the Audacy Music Festival over the weekend, where two performers contracted COVID-19 prior to performing

US rock band Weezer's lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida on Saturday

US rock band Weezer’s lead singer Rivers Cuomo, pictured, performs during Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida on Saturday

Pictured: Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, members of Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish electronic dance music that tested positive at the Audacy Music Festival

Pictured: Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, members of Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish electronic dance music that tested positive at the Audacy Music Festival

Meanwhile, as the festivities carried on through Sunday evening, the rest of the country has began to take precautions against the ‘super-mutant’ Omicron variant.

It appears to be more infectious than COVID, although no deaths have been recorded so far. Experts including Dr Anthony Fauci say they’re hopeful Omicron may only cause mild effects, but have urged caution, with more details on the latest strain set to emerge within the next fortnight. 

As of Saturday, the Omicron COVID variant has spread to a third of US states, according to the Surgeon General.

At least 15 US states have reported Omicron cases, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota among others. 

Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular was canceled, again, as city officials said things won’t return to normal until 2022 due to the pandemic.

In NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s New Year’s Eve outdoor party at Times Square is still on, and masks aren’t required for vaccinated people. 

And in Europe and the UK, there are more heightened fears over the Omicron variant after a party in Norway infected 60 of the 120 guests with the coronavirus strain. 

Firms have also warned workers expecting to come back to the office in early 2022 to continue working from home.  



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